HOUSEHOLDS in England are facing up to 4 per cent council tax hikes from April but they could challenge their bills and save thousands.
Of the 133 councils that have confirmed plans to up bills, 116 will do so by the full 3.99 per cent allowed, according to analysis by the County Councils Network.
It says this will see the average Band D bill in inner London rise to £1,332 a year, while those in shire counties will see bills hiked to £1,853 a year.
But council tax bands in England are based on how much your property was worth in April 1991.
And at the time, the people doing the valuations often allocated properties a band with "with just a glance", according to consumer site MoneySavingExpert.com.
This means up to 400,000 homes across England and Scotland could be in the wrong band, according to the Money Advice Service.
Just be aware that council tax is a devolved issue meaning Scotland and Wales are free to set their own rates. In Scotland, bands are also based on the same system as in England.
While in Wales, bands are based on property prices in April 2003. There's a different system in place in Northern Ireland.
If you're in the wrong council band, you could get hundreds of pounds back, and you might even get repayments backdated to when you first moved into the property.
Separately, you might also be eligible for a council tax discount if you're on a low income or you live on your own – here's what you need to know.
Should I challenge my bill?
Before challenging your council tax band you need to prepare for the fact your band could go up as well as down, which would see your council tax bills rise.
Your challenge could also result in your whole street's bills being hiked too.
So don't submit a challenge unless you've done the research and you're fairly confident of a win.
How do I check if I'm in the wrong band?
First of all, check your council tax and see if it matches those of your neighbours.
In England and Wales, you can do this via Gov.uk.
Just tap in your postcode and it will bring up your council tax band as well as everyone else's in your street.
If you live in a similar type of property as your neighbours but you're in a higher council tax band, this could be an indicator you're in the wrong band.
In Scotland, you can check via the Scottish Assessors Association.
Another important step is to work out how much your property was worth when the council tax bands came in.
MoneySavingExpert has a free calculator tool to help you do this, as well as a table on what band you should have been put in.
This information can't be used when you challenge, but it enables you to check if you're more likely to be successful.
How do I challenge my council tax band?
If you want to go ahead with a challenge, you can contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England and Wales or the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) in Scotland.
You must provide evidence to back up your claim, which can be the addresses of similar properties that are in a lower council tax band to yours.
If the valuation office agrees that your property is in the wrong band, it will contact you and the band will be changed.
If you're moved to a lower band, you'll get a refund of council tax going back to the date you moved into the property.
But if you're moved to a higher band, you'll start paying an increased rate of council tax straight away.
If it disagrees that you're in the wrong band, nothing will change.
Not happy with the outcome of your council tax challenge?
You can appeal to an independent valuation tribunal – there are details on how to do this on the VOA and SAA websites.
Figures from last year show that one in three people who challenged council tax bands saw a drop in bills.
Martin Lewis recently revealed his top tips to save thousands of pounds on your council tax.
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